Baseball NZ touches base with Taiwan counterparts

While baseball is one of the most popular sports in many parts of Asia, in New Zealand it's a junior partner to the likes of rugby, cricket, football and netball. However, the popularity of baseball is growing, and the national governing body, Baseball New Zealand, is looking to Asia to collaborate, learn from and leverage off of the success the sport has achieved in the region. Funded by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Baseball NZ national pathways and performance manager Connar O’Gorman embarked on a journey to Taiwan to meet with key decision-makers from across the region. Connar was supported to travel to Taiwan through the Foundation's Sports Knowledge Exchange fund.
Connar- standing in a baseball field wearing a black baseball hat and suynglasses

Connar's visit to Taiwan was scheduled to coincide with the Under 12 Baseball World Cup

In the world of sports, connections are made on the field and off.

 Baseball NZ national pathways and performance manager Connar O’Gorman's recent trip to Taiwan to connect with baseball sporting bodies from throughout the region proved just this. It was a cultural exchange that strengthened international ties and showcased the power of sport to connect people across cultures.

These connections are particularly important for Baseball NZ as they begin to grow the game of baseball in New Zealand and seek opportunities for additional learning, development and player pathways abroad.

Connar's visit was scheduled to coincide with the Under 12 Baseball World Cup, in which a New Zealand team was competing for the first time.

Despite an inauspicious start to the trip when a typhoon scuppered the plans of some of the visiting delegates, Connar says it was an invaluable visit that will pay dividends for baseball in New Zealand.

"The trip to Taiwan was an incredible opportunity for Baseball New Zealand to strengthen relationships with baseball in Asia and align with our strategic vision of building stronger international ties."

A young NZ baseball players with his arms around two Korean players

Connar: "It's about building friendships and experiencing the world through different opportunities all with sport as the backbone."

The meetings in Taiwan provided a platform for Baseball NZ to collaborate with Taiwanese representatives hosting the WBSC U12 World Cup, Korean delegates, and other Asian influencers.

"We spent time sharing our knowledge and experience of working to enhance baseball across the wider region," Connar explains. "It was inspiring to see how they have partnered with other countries to continue to enhance that growth."

A highlight of the trip for Connar was visiting local schools to speak to students and coaching staff. One school visit was also attended by the visiting New Zealand U12’s team who wowed everyone with waiata and a haka.

“It's these little moments that make a trip like this unforgettable and creates that lasting bond,” Connar says.

Baseball NZ's engagement with local schools in Taipei reflects a commitment to supporting grassroots development and cultural understanding through baseball.

"We worked through the values and shared objectives of utilising the power of sport to enhance relationships and growth partnerships," Connar says. "It was a mutual exchange of knowledge and experiences that will benefit both sides."

Stemming from conversations Connar had during the trip, the Hong Kong Baseball Association has extended an invitation to Baseball NZ to attend the Hong Kong International Women's Baseball Tournament, the Phoenix Cup, in 2025.

As well as attending meetings and U12 Baseball World Cup games, Connar and the New Zealand team got to experience some of the local culture

The day before departure, Taiwan delegates hosted Connar alongside delegates from South Korea and Hong Kong to watch the WBSC U12s tournament.

“The atmosphere was something else,” Connar recounts. “The local fans brought so much energy to the games. Chants rang out, welcoming New Zealand and other local visiting delegates and teams – the ultimate host welcome.”

Connar says being taken to a local temple as part of the school visit highlighted how extending connections beyond the meeting room helps build understanding and connections.

"These experiences provided an incredible opportunity for us to share in the culture of Taiwan and take away positives of how shared cultural experiences can strengthen relations and opportunities.

"It's about building friendships and experiencing the world through different opportunities all with sport as the backbone."

Our sports programme provides New Zealand sportspeople opportunities to grow more knowledgeable, connected and confident with Asia.

The Foundation's Sports Knowledge Exchange is a fund for New Zealand sports sector representatives to establish connections and develop relationships with their counterparts in Asia.